A new-look Redland side has its first big challenge for 2020 on Saturday when the Bombers come up against last year’s Grand Finalists Southport in a practice match at Fankhauser Reserve.
The Bombers finished second last on the ladder last season, only four points ahead of the NT Thunder, with three wins from their 18 matches in 2019.
But a big off-season has seen Redland welcome former AFL listed players such as Adam Oxley and Blake Grewar, who return to the club they were drafted from, as well as former Brisbane Lion Reuben William.
Redland head coach Phil Carse says plenty of new faces will hit the field this weekend and praised the contribution the big name recruits have brought to the club.
“They’re all contributing differently but they have all bought plenty to the table,” he told neafl.com.au.
“Some of the professionalism and the way we’ve been able to learn from some of the structures that their (previous) teams have used in the past has been invaluable to us.
“We’ll probably see as many as eight to ten new faces out there this weekend which is exciting for the club.
“You work towards what’s the best style to fit the new group and I think this will be a step in that direction."
With both Grewar and Oxley returning this year, Carse says it’s a great achievement for the club.
“That’s the ultimate for your footy club, for guys to come through juniors, then drafted through your senior team and then to go on to play some AFL and come back,” he said.
“Both of those boys have followed the same path and I think they want to give something back to the club and we’re certainly grateful for that.”
Carse has been impressed by a number of players this pre-season, including club captain Hayden Bertoli-Simmonds, yet-to-debut youngster Jai Larkins, former Mayne Tiger Jamie Ivers as well as rising stars Caleb Franks and Darcy Marsh.
But the coach has been keeping a close eye on former Lions Academy member Jack Rolls.
Rolls, a four-time NEAFL Rising Star nominee, was recruited to the club prior to the 2017 season but missed last year due to an ankle injury.
Carse says the 21-year-old has the ability to make it to the elite level.
“He comes back as a bit of a new recruit himself and he’s had a huge pre-season both in the gym and on the track and we think he’s got a really big 2020 ahead of him,” he said.
“I think he’s certainly got some top-level traits.”
Looking ahead to their battle with Southport, Carse says it’s a great opportunity to polish the Bombers game style against one of the best in the competition.
“I think it’s great to get to come up against a quality opponent on their home ground, you always want to challenge yourself in these games,” he said.
“We’ve got three practice matches and you still use them to try and fine tune and I guess come up with the best style that suits the new group we’ve got.”
Despite finishing towards the rear of the field last season, Carse believes that finals are a real possibility for the club in 2020. The Bombers haven’t tasted finals since 2012 – the year that Oxley last played before he was drafted to Collingwood.
“If you weren’t aiming for that then you are kind of wasting your time, so we’re certainly hoping that we can get ourselves up there,” he said.
“We still think last year, even though our win/loss ratio wasn’t great, we were still in the majority of games.
“I think if we can get a few of those back going our way then there’s no reason we can’t put our hand up.”
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